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Politics

Erdogan Says US Republicans Want Turkey to Have F-16’s

September 20, 2022

ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is continuing to push the United States for more F-16 fighter jets that could be used against Greece in a conflict and said he has the support of American Republicans.

“We have spoken to the Republicans, and we have received the support of the Republicans. If we can’t get the results out of the United States about the F-16s, what are we going to do? Of course, we’re going to take care of our own selves,” Erdogan added.

That came in an interview with the United States Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as he was in New York for the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, said Kathimerini.

He didn’t offer any explanation why Republicans – including Greek-Americans – would unite with President Joe Biden, who wants to let Turkey acquire the F-16s and to upgrade the Turkish Air Force.

When he was in Washington in May, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in an address to the Congress, urged lawmakers to reject the sale but didn’t name Turkey nor Erdogan.

Turkey was barred from getting US-made F-35’s after buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that undermine the security of NATO and could also be used against Greece, but Erdogan wants those too.

He said that despite Biden’s backing of the F-16s sale that relations with the United States are not “ideal” and that some American actions are not “very becoming of two friendly countries.”

“Our trade volume with the United States is not supposed to be where it is today. And in the defense industry, we are not at the level that we desire,” said Erdogan, who is irked that Greece is building an arsenal and international alliances.

“We have the outstanding issue of F-16s. We have procured F-16s from the United States. But, instead, certain political decisions are being made, resulting in the imposition of sanctions upon Turkey,” he said through a translator.

He threatened to acquire Russian weapons unless he gets what he wants but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg – who refused to intervene over Turkish violations of Greek airspace, said Turkey is a “valuable ally.”

Taking another page from the Republican playbook of former US President Donald Trump, who said the 2020 elections in which he lost were a fraud and stolen from him, Erdogan said if he loses in 2023 he may contest it.

But he dismissed the idea that he could lose despite record inflation that has cut deep into the quality of life of Turks and their pocketbooks, saying that, “Nobody will replace us because there’s no alternative.”

He said if he narrowly loses, however, he won’t stand for it. “There is losing by a great extent and there is not winning. But we are currently in such a position that we will be able to be triumphant,” he said.

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